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Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller
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Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller (Center for Cartoon Studies Presents)

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  896 ratings  ·  165 reviews
The Center for Cartoon Studies presents a wholly original take on the story of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller in the fifth book of the award-winning series of graphic novel biographies.
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Disney-Hyperion (first published February 7th 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,578)
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Rebecca Reid
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ms. Cobbs
Helen Keller's Best Friend Belle

Intermediate nonfiction text:
Lambert, J. (2012). Annie Sullivan and the trials of Helen Keller. Disney Book Group: New York, NY.

Twin Text:
Barry, H. M. (2013). Helen Keller’s best friend Belle. Il. Jennifer Thomas. Albert & Whitman Company: Chicago, IL

Helen Keller’s Best Friend Belle displays Helen’s life as a young girl. The illustrations depict the time period in still an inviting manner. The story is relatable to any child who has or loves a dog.
Ruchama Feuerman
I brought this graphic novel home for my children to read and became utterly absorbed by it. It captures the life of Annie Sullivan before she met up with her famous charge, and it movingly reveals her own mental drama in trying to reach Helen Keller and simultaneously deal with her own demons. (She was put in an alms house as a child with her brother, who died there.) Annie was sent to the Perkins Institute for the Blind and initially she was regarded as troublesome (nicknamed Spitfire) and not ...more

I've always been fascinated by Helen Keller, and I've read so much about it, so I wasn't thinking I would learn anything new from a graphic novel aimed at kids. Boy, was I wrong!

I had no idea that Annie Sullivan was so prickly and defensive of a person. Don't get me wrong; I don't blame her in the least, with all the horrible things she went through as a child. And I had known about the issue regarding Keller's story "The Frost King," but I suppose I'd never really stopped to think about how
Wow. Wow. Wow. I read an excerpt from this graphic biography in a Best American Comics collection, which compelled me to request the book from my library. I am blown away by the storytelling power of the author/illustrator. The textual part of the story is excellent, but I am downright astonished by his ability to convey such deep emotion through "cartoons." Although I could have polished this off in an hour, it took me a few days because I wanted to savor it, and also because I would find mysel ...more
I found this graphic novel telling of the relationship between young Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan to be really engrossing. Anne Sullivan's personal history and obstacles lent a new and interesting perspective to the story, and there was no tidy wrapping up of the story or sugarcoating of the difficulties that Helen's family, Annie, and the Perkin's school folks ran into when trying to help Helen and communicate with one another. It does not try to tell the WHOLE story, and in fact ends at a ra ...more
Matt Kelland
It's great to see comics tackling something other than superheroes, SF/F, crime, or war. This is a wonderful biographical piece about Helen Keller learning to communicate. It's told in a unique, powerful way, and should be on the reading list of anyone who's interested in the potential of comics as a medium.
Jul 03, 2014 Felix rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: graphic novel lovers, european comic books lovers, Helen Keller enthusiasts
Recommended to Felix by: Best American Comics anthology
Quite an extraordinary book. I usually give books I really like 4 stars, but there was something special about the way this book conveys blindness and a sense of communication by touch that I think would have been hard to pull off in any other medium/author; he's done such a good job of portraying that visually. The connection between teacher and pupil is well established, and the pacing is perfect. The panel designs remind me of european comics I read as a child, Herge's Tintin et al. Just grea ...more
Candice Snow
This is a beautiful retelling of the education of Helen Keller, a woman both blind and deaf, through her tutor Annie Sullivan, a woman born partially blind.

It seems like the world is never in short supply of cruelty. I grew up knowing nothing about Helen Keller except for the tasteless jokes my peers would laugh about at school. If they had known what a truly remarkable lady she was, they wouldn't have laughed. Both of these remarkable women endured so much from educators and their own family me
This graphic novel is a product of The Center for Cartoon Studies. It gives readers an overview of the challenges Annie Sullivan faced in her own life (before, during, and after Helen) and the demons that haunted her all of her life (the death of her brother Jimmie in an alms house where they were placed as children, struggles with her own vision, legal issues surrounding the publication of her work with Helen).

Lambert doesn’t try to tell Annie’s story in its entirety—part of the appeal of the b
The imagery used to convey Helen's isolation at the beginning of the book was particularly affecting. Like most Americans of a certain age, I'm familiar with the story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan primarily through the play and movie The Miracle Worker. This version of the story, by using pictures and words-as-pictures, really gave me a sense of what it might have been like to be Helen. I'd recommend it to anyone - beautiful storytelling that makes good use of the medium.
Marissa Connell
This book was simply amazing. Even though it's over 100 pages, I sat down and read it in one sitting, completely absorbed and captivated by the story. This story is one to add to any classroom's nonfiction, biography or graphic novel section. I really enjoyed the illustrations and easy to read comic strip set up. This book is definitely child friendly and educational in a creative way. This is a quality text that would be ideal for fourth or fifth grades. This book could be used as a read aloud ...more
Mrs W
Oct 13, 2014 Mrs W rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
This is a retelling of Annie Sullivan’s work with Helen Keller. The narrative follows both Sullivan’s and Keller’s points of view. Sullivan’s letters are used as a narration tool for her point of view. Keller’s deaf-and-blind perception of the world is portrayed visually in an ingenious way. Everything is black except for Keller and whatever she is touching at the moment. There are very few colors, and the objects are fuzzy and indistinct blobs. As she starts to identify the things around her us ...more
Cesally Shermam
Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Hellen Keller is a very insightful and fascinating picture book that tells of the beginning Helen Keller's and Annie Sullivan's relationship and shows how helen progresses in her learning from Annie along with some insight on Annie's past. In this graphic novel there are intriguing drawings of what Helen feels and begins to see through Annie's teaching. I gave this book a five out of five because of the amazing drawings and interesting context in which the childr ...more
Lindsey Hoskinson
Copyright Date: 2012
The graphic nonfiction novel Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert captures the life of Annie Sullivan before becoming Helen Keller's teacher. Annie faced so many challenges in her own personal life and then continued to face challenges when trying to communicate with Helen Keller. This books does an amazing job visually portraying Helen Keller's disability and the amazing ability to communicate solely on touch. I paired this with the twin text The V
Kris Patrick
If I was an English teacher, which I am not, and had a huge budget, which I would not, I would make this required reading for middle school! I now want to read everything from the Center of Cartoon Studies!!!!
Feb 11, 2015 Kate rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: comics
This blew me away, unexpectedly; it's one of the best comics biographies I've ever read. The way Helen's internal experience is communicated visually is remarkably effective and moving. I know the broad strokes of Helen Keller's story, but I had no idea that Annie Sullivan's life was so full of hardship, nor any visceral sense of the enormous struggle of wills that she and Helen engaged in during the early days of their partnership. I finished the book feeling further humbled by an already extra ...more
i've read about helen keller and anne sullivan and different points in my childhood, always with a sense of mystery of what the fog of relating the the world without sight or sound could be like. this little graphic novel captured no only what creating form out of formlessness could have been like, but also--so much more interesting!--the relationship between anne and helen. now thinking about their lives in terms of attachment it is incredible to think of how someone develops a sense of identit ...more
Emily Rath
This was the wonderful story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan. This story took us on a journey through Helen's life and how Annie became such a big part of it. We saw Helen struggle and achieve goals. Helen and Annie went on to become good friends. Each box in this story shows how Helen is improving and understanding more concepts. The genre of this book is a fictional, graphic novel, picture book. I rated this book a five because I absolutely loved it. I had never read a graphic novel until t ...more
There is good and bad in this book. The graphic idea of the book is awesome...the use of darkness and the growing sense of being and the way the pictures show how the pictures and relationships formed in Helen's mind. The two problems I have with the book are that they use script, which, while probably more realistic, is hard for many children to read. Also, the jumpiness of the story was hard. For me, the flashbacks drew away from the story instead of directly relating to what was happening in ...more
Robin Rockman
The book seems to cut off almost all of a sudden. I felt like I was left hanging with no real resolution. I also had a love/hate relationship with the artwork. Some of it, such as from Helen Keller's perspective was fabulous and added a rich perspective to what she experienced. I also loved the consistency of the sign language through her hand and the line indicating that this is where the conversation was taking place. Perhaps, this is picky, but I did not like the drawings in general or how th ...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I thought this graphic novel was pretty great. As a biography, it appears to be well researched and primarily uses text quoted from Sullivan's letters. I really like the section of "panel discussions" in the back that discuss the various people featured and their presence in the book. It's perhaps a little slow and thoughtful for younger children who may desire a faster-moving story but Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller is really a beautiful story with a fresh, original take on Helen ...more
Ms. Yingling
This graphic novel tells the story of Annie Sullivan coming to help Helen Keller learn to communicate, but also picks up more of Annie's story of her own difficulties as a child. The graphics are particularly effective in portraying Helen's inability to sense the world around her-- a black background has a shadowy gray child on it until Helen is able to process words. A few things new to me are covered-- Helen's story, The Frost King, a story that Helen wrote as a gift for her teacher's mentor a ...more
Barbara McVeigh
As a young girl, I loved to read about Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller, so maybe there's a bit of nostalgia in this graphic novel for me. Still, I learned new things about Annie and Helen, and the story is plotted in a new and original way.

The book nicely highlights the key points in both Annie's and Helen's lives, as well as gives some historical context to this era. It's a great introduction to these two people and can operate as a launching pad for further investigation and discussion.

The cov
I enjoyed this, but I keep thinking about this book in terms of how it could be educationally useful. I don't remember what grade kids read The Miracle Worker in, but this would be a perfect addition to a lesson plan about it/Helen Keller. Clearly all comics are not about superheroes, but this is such a good example of powerful storytelling that can be done through the medium of comics/graphic novels (Hello, Maus!).

Let me get off my educational tool kick. This was a neat read because it told a
Imagine learning to dance. But you can’t hear the music.
Imagine riding horseback. But you can’t see to keep your balance and not fall off.
In her lifetime, blind and deaf Helen Keller learned to do both. She
Our story opens with a little girl drawn without features, completely in the dark. She is angry, she is scared, she is combative. This is Helen Keller and this is her world.
Enter Annie Sullivan, the woman who is hired by Helen’s parents to teach Helen to communicate. Annie grew up in an orpha
Many people are familiar with the story of Helen Keller, a child who contracted an illness as a baby that left her blind and deaf. Through the dedication of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, Helen learned how to communicate through sign language, reading, writing and eventually could speak.

The graphic novel approach to the story of Helen's life is portrayed very artfully. We start with a dark world, that features Helen and anything that she comes in contact with. Eventually the world opens up as she l
Thomas matatall
The graphic novele was sort of hard to read for me, only because I hate cursive writing. I'm never fast when I'm trying to read it. There was also this other type of hand writing which was sloppy and hard to read also. This book is about Annie Sullivan and how she taught Helen Keller how to speak, feel, understand, manners, and much more. I thought it was very interesting that Annie was a little blind too, I guess that's why she had such a good connection with Helen. I thought it was cool that A ...more
Wandering Librarians
Annie Sullivan comes from the Perkins Institution for the Blind to work with Helen Keller, and blind and deaf girl with no way of communicating. Helen is wild and savage, trapped in a silent dark world. Annie, however, is no shrinking violet, and is determine to get though to Helen, despite the interference of Helen's parents.

This was excellent. Not only was the story beautifully told, but the visual representation of Helen's world was incredibly striking.

I have never read Helen Keller's The Sto
Focuses on Helen's famous teacher, and makes good use of her actual letters. Annie was a wonderful writer, very sharp-tongued and full of prickly observations about the world, and you can tell that the author/artist liked her.

The story of Annie educating Helen has been told a lot but people generally don't focus much on what it must have been like for a sharp little Irish girl who spent her early life in horrifying conditions in an almshouse to go live with a very privileged family in the post-
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